The best fish are never the ones that are caught, but those that got away. This needn’t be so, though, if you take the time and trouble to select the right kind of hook for the fish you want.
Hooks are the most important items of an angler’s tackle and yet, all too often, they are not chosen with enough care. Admittedly the range of hooks available is bewildering to the beginner, but in order to enjoy consistent success a reliable hook is indispensable.
A double hook. This hook has a japanned finish, which gives it good protection against rusting.
Needle or oblong eye
Needle eyes such as this are often used by anglers who wish to make up neat traces for pike fishing
A typical looped eye. This is the type of eye which is widely used on low water single salmon hooks.
Also known as the flatted shank, this hook is useful where a neat junction of hook to nylon is required.
A tapered eye on a hook with a bronzed finish. Bronzing is generally better than japanning.
Categories of hooks
Freshwater hooks fall into three categories: eyed, spade-end and ready tied to nylon. The first are tied to the line by the angler, who can use a variety of knots. The important thing is to be sure the knot holds, as this can easily be the weak point in your tackle which will fail when most needed. Spade-end hooks, as the name suggests, are flattened at the top end and are whipped to nylon using the method illustrated or some other reliable method. Ready tied hooks are bought already whipped to a short length of line, nowadays nylon.
There are many variations as to bend, length of shank and so on, but these are mainly variations on the three main kinds of hook. Double and treble hooks are mounted on plugs and spinners for pike, perch, chub, trout, salmon and zander. Stewart tackles comprise two single hooks set a couple of inches apart.
- Sue Burgess ‘caddis’ hook
- Mustad 37160 ‘caddis/shrimp’
- Straight pull/shrimp hook
- Short, long and extra long shanks
- Swedish ‘parachute’ dry fly
- Tandem hook
- ‘Popping bug’ hook
- Keel hook, mostly for lures
- ‘Draper’ flat nymph hook
- Mustad beak
- Yorkshire flybody
There is a further category of hook, the gorge hook, whose use is illegal in Britain. This is simply a straight hook, pointed at both ends. Inserted sideways in deadbait, when swal-
lowed by a fish it becomes firmly lodged in the stomach.
The basic requirements
The essential requirements of a hook are the same for all kinds. 11 should be well-tempered and thin in the body (or ‘wire’); the point and barb should be sharp; the barb should be set close to the point and not stand out at too great an angle from the body.
The thickness of the ‘wire’ is very important. The weight of a thick hook can cause a bait,
especially a light one such as maggot or caster, to sink too quickly when ‘freelining’ — using no float but allowing the bait to sink naturally down to the fish. An additional disadvantage of a hook that is too thick is that it can burst a bait instead of entering it cleanly.
Before using a hook, test the temper of the wire. Under pressure it should bend but not remain bent, and it certainly should not snap. To test it, hold the hook by the shank and pull just above the point with pliers.
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